The ability to lead is considered by many to be a key characteristic of successful educators since leading is considered a key component to guiding pupils toward learning. In addition, the study of leadership has become an important and central part of the literature on management and organizational behavior for several decades. The field of leadership study is an interdisciplinary one, and publications on leadership can be found in management, psychology, sociology, political science, public administration and educational administration. In 1989, a journal devoted exclusively to leadership, the Leadership Quarterly, was initiated.
Understanding the various leadership theories as they apply to educational institutions is crucial to managers and employees alike as they seek to determine which style of leadership works best for them, and in which leadership environments they are likely to thrive.
This research presents a comprehensive definition of leadership, considers the actual importance of leadership in education, and evaluates various approaches that have been used to understand leadership. Five significant leadership theories and their applicability to education are also presented. The massive size and scope of the literature on leadership prevents an all-encompassing review of all literature theories; those theories which have had the greatest effect on management styles and which have been most widely adopted are considered here. In addition to presenting these theories, their significant advantages and drawbacks are also considered.
Leadership can be defined in terms of individual traits, leader behavior, interaction patterns, role relationships, follower perceptions, influence over followers, influence on task goals and influence on organizational culture (Yukl, 1989, p. 253). Most definitions of leadership involve an influence process, but in general, definitions of leadership have little else in common. De...